Five men who pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder the Bacon brothers and their associates during a Lower Mainland gang war should receive sentences between 11 and 14 years for “terrorizing the public” and showing a “blind indifference to human life,” says the Crown.
The men – Yong Sung John Lee, Dilun Heng, Barzan Tilli-Choli, Karwan Ahmet Saed, and Ion Kroitoru – pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.
During sentencing Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Ralph Keefer said the men – linked to the United Nations gang – showed “arrogance” by participating in what were essentially “human safaris.”
“When assessing the nature of this particular conspiracy, in the Crown’s respectful view, it is shocking, not just for its blind indifference to human life, but also for its belief, arrogance, if I can call it that, that its members were entitled to inflict their behaviour on society as a whole. And that is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the case,” Mr. Keefer told the court.
“Disputes among drug dealers, or gangs of drug dealers, with their culture of guns, may be something we’re saddled with. Terrorizing the public as they did in this case makes this conspiracy considerably worse.”
The men were arrested in 2009, as the United Nations gang fought for turf with the Bacon Red Scorpions group, according to an agreed statement of facts.
Mr. Keefer said the United Nations may have felt it was under attack by the Bacon Red Scorpions, but “it’s more appropriate to say that it was the public who were under attack.”
“We suffered not just from the fear that this widespread and ultimately idiotic gang war generated. But also from the fact that innocent lives were placed in jeopardy in the course of it,” he said.
Mr. Keefer presented a joint sentencing submission with defence lawyers.
He told the court Mr. Tilli-Choli should receive a sentence of 14 years due to his involvement in two incidents. The first was an unsuccessful plan to attack a limousine linked to a Bacon associate as it left a Lil Wayne concert. The second was a non-fatal shooting outside a bar.
Mr. Keefer said Mr. Kroitoru should receive a 13-year sentence because he played an active role in hiring a hit man to try to kill Jonathan, Jarrod and Jamie Bacon, and has a substantial record of violence.
Mr. Saed and Mr. Heng should receive 12-year sentences, and Mr. Lee 11 years, the prosecutor said. Mr. Kroitoru and Mr. Saed should receive additional years on a drug charge, Mr. Keefer said, but that time would be served concurrently.
All five men would receive double credit for the time they’ve already spent behind bars. They would serve another two years and eight months to almost five years behind bars, depending on the specific point at which the man was arrested.
Lawyers for the men tried to minimize their clients’ involvement with the United Nations gang, with Mr. Tilli-Choli’s counsel saying any suggestion he was a de facto leader was “sensationalistic.” Several of the defence lawyers portrayed their clients as family men who are looking to better their lives.
Sentencing is scheduled to continue Thursday.
As a result of their guilty pleas, the Crown will not proceed with charges of murder and attempted murder against the five men.
Those charges stemmed from the 2008 shooting death of Jonathan Barber, a stereo installer who was killed while he drove a car associated with the Bacons. Mr. Barber had taken possession of the vehicle to install new speakers. His girlfriend, who was driving a vehicle behind him, was injured in the shooting.
Daniel Russell, also of the UN gang, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter for his role in Mr. Barber’s death.
A Crown spokesman has said the five men were not directly involved in Mr. Barber’s death, or the shooting of his girlfriend.